ROBERT W. SWEET, District Judge.
On July 27, 2011, Tariq Ahmed ("Ahmed" or "Defendant") pleaded guilty to Counts 1 through 5 for one count of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, two counts of credit card fraud, one count of identification fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. For the reasons set forth below, Ahmed will be sentenced to 75 months' imprisonment to be followed by three years supervised release. Defendant will forfeit to the United States all property, real and personal, involved in the offense, or traceable to such property, charged in Counts 1, 2 and 3. Defendant will also be required to pay a special assessment of $500.
Information S110 CR 195 (RWS) was filed in the Southern District of New York on July 27, 2011.
Count 1 charges that from at least 2005 through September 2009, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, Ahmed and others conspired to commit credit card fraud.
Count 2 charges that from at least 2004 through September 2009, Defendant trafficked in and used fraudulent credit cards during a one-year period, and by such conduct obtained things of value aggregating $1, 000 and more during that period.
Count 3 charges that from at least 2004 through September 2009, Defendant committed credit card fraud with one or more credit cards which were issued to other persons, to receive payment and other things of value during a one-year period, the aggregate value of which was equal to and greater than $1, 000.
Count 4 charges that from at least 2004 through September 2009, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, Defendant unlawfully possessed and used, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person, during and in relation to a felony violation enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(c).
Count 5 charges that from at least 2004 through 2007, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, Defendant and others conspired to submit a false immigration application, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a).
Defendant was arrested on September 30, 2009, and was detained until October 31, 2011, when he was released on a $100, 000 unsecured bond and strict pretrial supervision, including the surrender of all travel documents and travel restriction to the Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York and District of New Jersey.
On April 29, 2010, co-defendant Mohammed Janjua ("Janjua") (P57142/L.Y. Ramos) pleaded guilty to Counts One through Three only of Indictment 10 CR 195 (RWS) for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and credit card fraud. On October 25, 2010, this Court imposed a sentence of 40 months' imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a restitution order in the amount of $454, 943.99.
On September 16, 2011, co-defendant Irshad Ahmid ("Ahmid") (P61151/M. Fisher) pleaded guilty to Count 1 only of Indictment 10 CR 195 (RWS) for conspiracy to commit access device fraud. On November 2011, this Court imposed a sentence of time served, with supervised release to be deferred until Ahmid returns to the U.S. A restitution order in the amount of $74, 199 was also imposed.
In a related case, Hassan Choudhry ("Choudhry") (P57144/S. Matthews) pleaded guilty as charged in one-count Misdemeanor Information 10 CR 201 (AJP) for identity theft on April 6, 2010. On October 29, 2010, the Honorable Andrew J. Peck imposed a sentence of 5 years' probation and a restitution order in the amount of $1, 447.
Ahmed's sentencing is currently scheduled for November 12, 2013.
The Sentencing Framework
In accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker , 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and the Second Circuit's decision in United States v. Crosby , 397 F.3d 103 (2d Cir. 2005), the sentence to be imposed was reached through consideration of all of the factors identified in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), including the Advisory Guidelines. Thus, the sentence to be imposed here is the result of a consideration of:
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
(2) the need for the sentence imposed -
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;
(B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
(C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
(D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner;
(3) the kinds of sentences available;
(4) the kinds of sentence and the sentencing range established for -
(A) the applicable category of offense committed by the applicable category of defendant as set forth in the guidelines...;
(5) any pertinent policy statement.. [issued by the Sentencing Commission];
(6) the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
(7) the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.
18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). A sentencing judge is permitted to find all the facts appropriate for determining a sentence, whether that sentence is a so-called Guidelines sentence or not. See Crosby , 397 F.3d at 114-15.
The Court adopts the facts set forth in the Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") with respect to Defendant's personal and family history.
The Offense Conduct
The following description draws from the PSR. The specific facts of the underlying conduct are adopted as set forth in that document.
Since at least 2007, FBI agents, the New York State Attorney General's Office and other law enforcement agencies investigated a credit card fraud ring operating in New York City. The ring operated, in part, from a company called "Nazir Associates, " which was located at 39-04 43rd Avenue in Queens, New York (the "Nazir Associates Fraud Ring" or the "Fraud Ring"). In about 2006, Nazir Associates maintained an office at 45 West 34th Street in Manhattan, New York.
Nazir Associates purported to provide services to customers who needed to "repair" their credit. Through their association with this business, members of the Nazir Associates Fraud Ring were able to obtain personal identification information of others, including the personal identification information of individuals who had no legal immigration status in the United States. The Fraud Ring's members then exploited such information after those individuals were deported from, or otherwise left, the United States.
Since at least 2006, individuals at the Nazir Associates engaged in large-scale identity theft and credit card fraud. Among other things, Defendant and his associates would use customers' personal identification information without the customers' permission in order to obtain credit cards in those individuals' names and/or to make fraudulent charges using those customers' credit cards. Co-defendant Mohammad Janjua was one of the owners of Nazir Associates.
Persons committing access device fraud frequently traffic in what are called "files." A "file" typically consists of several pieces of personal identification information of an individual, and may include a person's name, address, Social Security number, birth date, mother's maiden name and phone number. A "file" may also include a credit report and credit cards in an individual's name. Credit card fraud rings buy and sell "files" with the intent that individuals buying the "files" will use them to obtain credit cards in other individuals' names, use those credit cards to purchase items, make collusive ...